Carrier Software Defined Networking (SDN)

14 July 2014

Software defined networking (SDN) allows the replacement of existing network elements by commodity servers controlled by software.

This enables networks to be reconfigured using software to meet different service requirements using an approach known as network function virtualisation (NFV) where a physical element such as a router is replaced by a virtual router running on software on a server.

This study was commissioned from Fujitsu to better understand developments in this area with the aim of providing information on SDN activity enabling Ofcom to identify whether any new future regulatory, competition issues are likely to arise from SDN & NFV deployment; including those relating to backhaul, fixed, ISP and mobile infrastructure. Its high level conclusions include:

  • Some large scale Over the Top (OTT) application providers are using SDNs today. SDNs will also become common in ISP & carrier networks bringing greater flexibility in how they can be reconfigured using APIs to enable new services,
  • Residential & business consumers are set to benefit from developments in SDNs both in terms of making it easier to add new features to existing services and for carriers being able to deploy new services quickly,
  • Carriers will be able to use SDNs to more easily optimise the Quality of Experience for their customers through the use of adaptive traffic management and content optimisation techniques e.g. For delivery of linear and on demand IPTV, and
  • Cloud based RAN will be an early adopter of SDN techniques such as dynamic adaptation of network bandwidth to meet traffic demand and rapid scaling of centralised network intelligence e.g. With centralised baseband units located in datacentres connecting to multiple Remote Radio Units (RRUs) over dark fibre.

Full report

Carrier Software Defined Networking (SDN) (PDF, 4.2 MB)